British woman ‘may have been attacked by wolves’ in Greece

A British woman who died in northern Greece after apparently being mauled by a pack of stray dogs may have been attacked by wolves, a coroner has said.

Celia Hollingworth, from Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire was reported missing on Thursday after visiting an archaeological site near Maroneia.

Coroner Nikolaos Kifinidis suggested she may have been attacked by other wild animals such as wolves or jackals.

Wiltshire Police said it is supporting the 64-year-old’s family.

A spokesman added the force is in contact with Greek police regarding formal identification of the body.

The recently retired University of Bristol staff member took a taxi to a local archaeological site on Thursday, according to Greek police.

It is thought she tried to walk back along a coastal path when she was attacked by dogs. Her body was found on Friday.

According to animal welfare campaigners, there are an estimated 1m stray dogs in Greece, however wolves are common to the wooded region.

Reports say she used her phone to try to contact relatives in the UK while she was being attacked.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said it was in contact with Greek police and “was also providing consular assistance to her family”.

Ruling expected in Bombardier-Boeing trade dispute

The aerospace firm, Bombardier, is to find if it will suffer financial penalties as a result of a trade dispute with its rival Boeing.

Boeing alleges Bombardier got unfair state subsidies from the UK and Canada.

The American firm’s complaint, lodged in April, claimed Bombardier was selling its C-Series jet below cost in the US.

Financial penalties could be imposed, which would deal a blow to Bombardier.

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They could potentially jeopardise a major order made last year from US airline Delta – a $5.6bn (£4.15bn) deal for up to 125 of the jets.

About 1,000 jobs at the company’s Belfast operation are linked to the C-Series.

The company – which bought Short Brothers in 1989 – is one of Northern Ireland’s most important employers.

Case against Bombardier?

The US trade investigation to which Bombardier is being subjected is a complex, multi-stage process.

It involves the interplay of two government agencies, the Department of Commerce and the US International Trade Commission (USITC).

The USITC effectively ruled there was an arguable case against Bombardier, moving the complaint to the next stage.

Now, it is up to the Department of Commerce to make a preliminary finding on whether Bombardier has in fact received subsides, or is selling below cost.

Read more: Bombardier-Boeing dispute explained

Prime Minister Theresa May raised concerns about the possible implications of the ruling in a telephone call with President Donald Trump earlier this month.

The government and trade unions fear it might even make Bombardier question remaining in Northern Ireland, where it employs 4,100 people in four locations.

Media captionThe history of Bombardier in Northern Ireland

The wings of the C-Series are made at a purpose-built £520m factory at Queen’s Island.

The programme is not just important to Bombardier jobs in Belfast, but also 15 smaller aerospace firms in NI – and dozens more across the UK – which make components for the wings.

The Northern Ireland Executive and UK Government pledged to invest almost £135 million in the establishment of the C-Series manufacturing site.

The programme received £750m from Quebec’s provincial government in 2015 when its fortunes appeared to be ailing.

Delays and cost over-runs in bringing the passenger plane to market almost bankrupted Bombardier, which has had to axe jobs worldwide as part of a survival plan.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Parts of Bombardier’s C-Series planes are made in Belfast

The Department of Commerce could announce a preliminary tariff on the C-Series, raising the cost of importing the plane to the United States.

That should not have a huge immediate practical impact as it will be the spring of 2018 before Bombardier delivers any C-Series to Delta, its US customer.

If the finding does go against Bombardier, the investigation moves to the next stage, with attention switching back to the USITC for its final ruling.

The role of the USITC at this stage is to assess if damage has been caused to a US company, in this case Boeing, as a result of the subsides or below cost selling.

This verdict, due to be delivered in February 2018, will be the key one.

But even that may not be the end of the process.

USITC determinations can be appealed to the US Court of International Trade or, as this is a case involving Canada, to a disputes panel of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).

Ultimately the government of Canada could pursue a case against the US at the World Trade Organisation.

US to curb Russian military flights over American territory

U.S. officials are preparing to announce restrictions to Russian military flights over American territory under the Treaty on Open Skies in the latest sign of strain in U.S.-Russia relations.

The treaty, part of a suite of arms-control, transparency and confidence-building agreements that proliferated in the late stages of the Cold War, permits its 34 ratified member states to conduct observation flights over each other’s territory while capturing aerial imagery of military personnel and materiel.

Treaty-related tensions intensified over two days in August, when a Russian plane operating under Open Skies flew over U.S. cities including Washington as well as Bedminster, N.J., while President Trump was staying at the Trump National Golf Club in the town.

Those flights, however, aren’t the cause of the new restrictions, according to U.S. officials. Instead, they assert that Russia is in violation of the Open Skies treaty, because the Kremlin imposed restrictions on flights over Kaliningrad, Russia’s Baltic Sea exclave, which U.S. officials believe is host to a cache of sophisticated weaponry.

India court blames ‘promiscuous’ rape survivor

A recent Indian court order suspending the jail terms of three young men guilty of gang-rape and blackmail, even labelling the victim as “promiscuous”, stands out for being regressive, writes the BBC’s Geeta Pandey in Delhi.

A two-judge bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court awarded bail to three law students from the elite Jindal Global Law School who had been convicted by a lower court in March for blackmailing and gang-raping a fellow student.

Hardik Sikri and Karan Chhabra were sentenced to 20 years in prison, while their friend Vikas Garg was handed a seven-year term. They were all also found guilty of other crimes and given smaller terms, but these were to run concurrently.

According to court documents, the young woman had a consensual relationship with Sikri in November 2013 which lasted a month, after which she broke up with him.

But for the next 18 months, he used her nude photographs to blackmail her and rape her. Not just that, he also forced her to have sex with his two friends and on one occasion, Sikri and Chhabra gang-raped her.

The convicts appealed in the high court and asked to be freed on bail while the case was being heard – and the court agreed.

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In a country where thousands of people under trial languish in prison for decades, often for minor crimes, it is shocking that men convicted of crimes as serious as gang-rape and blackmail were freed on bail.

What is worse is that the short 12-page court order is littered with statements that have been described by the Indian media as some of the “worst examples of victim shaming”.

The young woman was castigated for drinking beer, smoking, taking drugs, keeping condoms in her room and not confiding in her parents that she was being abused.

Here are some excerpts from the judgement:

  • The victim’s testimony “offers an alternate story of casual relationship with her friends, acquaintances, adventurism and experimentation in sexual encounters”.
  • Her “allegations regarding her being threatened into submission and blackmail lend sufficient diabolism to the offence, but a careful examination of her statement again offers an alternate conclusion of misadventure stemming from a promiscuous attitude and a voyeuristic mind”.
  • Her “narrative does not throw up gut wrenching violence that normally precede or accompany such incidents”.

Read the full court order

In their order, Justice Mahesh Grover and Justice Raj Shekhar Attri said they intended “to balance the concerns of the victim, demands of the society and law and the element of reformatory and rehabilitative justice”.

“It would be a travesty if these young minds are confined to jail for an inordinate long period which would deprive them of their education, opportunity to redeem themselves and be a part of the society as normal beings,” they added.

Predictably, the court order has been greeted with howls of protest in India. Many took to social media to express their anger and the victim’s friends started a petition on condemning the judgement.

Supreme Court lawyer Karuna Nundy told the BBC that the order “implies she had no right not to be raped”.

A judgement like this, she says, takes away hard-won victories for women’s legal equality.

Image copyright Getty Images

“This order seems to be innocent of the legal definition of consent and of the judgements of the Supreme Court that are quite clear that even a woman of ‘easy virtue’ may well withhold consent. Any sex after that is rape,” Ms Nundy says.

In a society steeped in patriarchy, it’s not uncommon for women to be blamed for inviting sexual assault and rape. Victims are often blamed for wearing short skirts or jeans, having boyfriends, being out late at night, or even talking on mobile phones.

In fact, until 2003, we even had a law that allowed victim shaming.

Under Section 155(4) of the Indian Evidence Act of 1872, it was essentially the rape victims who were put on trial and the accused were often allowed to go scot-free if they could prove that “the victim was of generally immoral character”.

In 1980, the Law Commission suggested that the archaic law be amended and in 2000, the Commission recommended its deletion, saying that it could destroy a victim’s reputation and self-respect.

Decades later, however, victims continue to be shamed.

Bali volcano: Indonesia fears imminent Mt Agung eruption

Indonesia has warned that the active volcano on the tourist island of Bali is entering a “critical phase”, amid fears of an imminent eruption.

Hundreds of tremors were recorded on Monday at Mount Agung, in an increase of volcanic activity.

But officials also stressed they could not predict when it might erupt.

More than 57,000 people living near the mountain have been evacuated from their homes, and the area is under the highest level volcano alert.

Media captionIs Bali volcano about to erupt?

Indonesia’s national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told reporters on Monday that “volcanic activity is increasing, and tremors are being becoming more frequent”.

He added: “There is a definite possibility that it will erupt, however we don’t know when it will happen.”

More than 560 volcanic tremors were detected on Monday alone, according to the national volcanology centre.

  • What’s happening at Mt Agung?

Officials started detecting shallow tremors in late August. Within days the volcano showed increasing signs of activity, and authorities stepped up their alerts and evacuations of the rural villages surrounding the mountain.

Thousands are now living in temporary shelters at town halls and schools after authorities imposed a 12km (7.5-mile) exclusion zone around the mountain.

‘Feverish offerings’

Rebecca Henschke, Editor, BBC Indonesian

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Hindu worshippers performed a ritual ceremony inside the danger zone on Monday

When Mount Agung rumbles, the Balinese believe the gods are angry. Everything on the island exists in relation to the giant volcano.

Some religious leaders say tourists behaving badly and disrespecting customs are to blame for its current activity.

Now, in temples across Bali, feverish offerings are being made. And in some villages inside the danger zone, people are waiting for spiritual signs from priests and those believed to able to communicate with the volcano, before coming down.

The government is telling them to leave now. The last time Agung erupted in 1963, people had just minutes to flee.

Concern for livestock is stopping some people from leaving this time. And there are farmers who are returning daily to the danger zone so they can feed animals they can’t take with them.

A local animal rights group is trying to help, evacuating animals left behind or releasing them so they can at least run.

The national disaster agency said in its Tuesday statement (link in Indonesian) that 57,428 people had moved out of their homes and some had been received in “sister villages”, which are neighbouring villages prepared to receive evacuees.

It added that volunteers were helping to evacuate cattle from the danger zone.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A sports arena in Klungklung at Bali has been converted into a temporary shelter

The island’s main tourist areas of Kuta and Seminyak, which are about 70km from the mountain, remain unaffected for now. Flight operations are also normal.

Several countries including Britain, Australia and Singapore have issued travel advisories for their citizens, warning of possible flight disruption and evacuations.

More than 1,000 people died when Mount Agung last erupted in 1963.

Mount Agung is among about 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia – an archipelago prone to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes as it sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”.

US Marines get first female infantry officer

A female US Marine has made history by becoming the first woman to complete the Corps’ famously gruelling infantry officer training.

The lieutenant, who wants to keep her identity private, graduated in Quantico, Virginia, on Monday.

She will soon be assigned to lead a 40-strong platoon.

Marine Corps commandant Gen. Robert Neller tweeted a picture of the woman, saying he was “proud of this officer & her fellow leaders”.

There are almost 1.4 million active duty troops in the US armed forces, and about 15% are female.

In March 2016, then-President Barack Obama opened all military positions to women, including combat units.

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The 13-week officer training course started in July with 131 Marines, and 88 ultimately graduated.

The Corps says it educates would-be officers in “the leadership, infantry skills, and character required to serve as infantry platoon commanders”.

Traditionally around a quarter of all applicants miss the mark, 10% of them on the first day.

Media captionNorway set up the world’s first all-female special forces training programme

The Corps has pushed harder to appeal to female recruits this year, after a nude photo scandal saw some Marines share naked photographs of female colleagues on Facebook.

In May it stoutly defended a recruitment advert – the first led by a woman – after critics said it pandered to political correctness.

In an opinion piece for the New York Times, former Marine captain Teresa Fazio said the female officer would be a major asset in Afghanistan.

“Female troops are invaluable for searching houses and communicating with local women, gaining access to spaces and information that, because of local custom, male troops cannot get,” she wrote.

The Marine Corps tweeted a video showing the female officer engaged in exercises in the mountains alongside her male counterparts.

She will now be sent to the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California, for her first assignment.

Palestinian gunman kills three Israelis in West Bank

Three Israelis have been shot dead by a Palestinian at the entrance to a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, Israeli police say.

The gunman, a 37-year-old from a nearby village, was also shot and died later.

Police say he pulled out a gun as he waited to enter Har Adar along with Palestinian labourers and opened fire on police and security guards.

It came as US envoy Jason Greenblatt arrived in Jerusalem to try to revive Israel-Palestinian peace talks.

The White House has tried to lay the groundwork for a resumption of negotiations since Donald Trump took office in January, but there has been no sign of progress.

Peace talks between the two sides broke down amid acrimony in April 2014.

Police say the gunman, identified in Israeli media as Nimer Jamal, struck after he raised suspicions of security personnel at a rear gate at Har Adar.

He shot his victims at close-range, seriously wounding one person as well, before being shot by security forces.

The gunman was a father-of-four who had an Israeli permit to work in Jewish settlements along the boundary of the West Bank, Israel’s internal security agency said.

Image copyright Israeli Police
Image caption Israeli police released a photo of the gun used

He came from the village of Beit Surik, about a mile east of Har Adar.

The area is about 18km (11 miles) north-west of Jerusalem.

No group has taken responsibility for the attack, although Gaza-based Palestinian militant organisations Hamas and Islamic Jihad welcomed it.

The head of the Information Office of Fatah, the political faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said Israel bore responsibility for the attack, because of its “continuous aggression” against the Palestinians.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said the “terrible attack at Har Adar is the Palestinian reception” for the US envoy.

Wave of attacks

About 36,000 Palestinians have permits to work in Jewish settlements, where security to guard against attacks is tight.

The issue of settlements is one of the most contentious between Israel and the Palestinians, who see them as an obstacle to peace.

More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

Tuesday’s attack is the latest in a wave of stabbings, shootings and car-rammings of Israelis predominantly by Palestinians or Israeli Arabs since late 2015.

Since then, some 50 Israelis and five foreign nationals have been killed in such attacks in Israel and the Occupied Territories.

Around 300 Palestinians – most of them assailants, Israel says – have also been killed in that period, according to AFP news agency. Others have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops.

Israel says Palestinian incitement has fuelled the attacks. The Palestinian leadership has blamed frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation.

China disrupts WhatsApp ahead of Communist Party meeting

The messaging service WhatsApp has been disrupted in China as the government steps up security ahead of a Communist Party meeting next month.

Users have faced problems with the app for more than a week with services dropping in and out.

At times, it has been completely blocked and only accessible via virtual private networks (VPNs) which circumvent China’s internet firewall.

WhatsApp is Facebook’s only product allowed to operate in mainland China.

Facebook’s main social media service and its Instagram image sharing app are not available on the mainland.

Services disrupted

The BBC’s China based correspondents said the WhatsApp messaging service started going offline more than a week ago.

A test of its services on Tuesday showed users in China could not send video messages or photographs to people outside China.

The disruption follows restrictions on WhatsApp video chats and photographs in July, which were later lifted.

The tightening of online censorship comes as China steps up security ahead of the Communist Party’s national congress which is held every five years.

“The run-up period to a gathering is normally a time of greater restrictions of all kinds to assure that the critical Party Congress is held under ideal social conditions and is not disrupted”, Robert Lawrence Kuhn, long-time advisor to China’s leaders and multinational corporations told the BBC.

However, he said it is not yet clear whether the restrictions will be relaxed as has happened after previous party congresses, adding that many analysts do not believe they will be.

WhatsApp has declined to comment on the latest clampdown.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption WeChat is the most popular messaging service in China

Analysis – Stephen McDonell, BBC China correspondent, Beijing

Last week word started spreading around other platforms… “Is WhatsApp blocked?”

The replies would come in: “You need to use a VPN”. Then the VPNs were being blocked.

Welcome to online China in the run-up to the Communist Party Congress.

Taking out WhatsApp has no impact on most Chinese people. They don’t use it. The unrivalled king of cyberspace in this country is WeChat (or, in Chinese, Weixin 微信)

You would really struggle to find somebody here not using WeChat to send messages, share photos, swap locations, flirt, read news and pay for pretty much everything. This all-encompassing app at the centre of people’s lives is available for the Communist Party to spy on the entire population.

WhatsApp is not – at least not to the same extent.

So, during this sensitive time leading up to the once-in-five-years Party Congress, those with responsibility for censoring social media are nervous.

They worry that somebody may use an app beyond their complete control to, for example, organise a protest or post a funny photo of President Xi Jinping and for this to somehow go under their radar.

Tech crackdown

WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption which ensures only the sender and recipient can view the content of messages.

It also prevents Facebook from knowing what is said in any text, voice and video conversation being communicated on WhatsApp.

“China has shown little tolerance to encryption especially on platforms that can be used to share materials or potential propaganda,” Bill Taylor-Mountford, Asia Pacific vice president for LogRhythm told the BBC.

The latest disruption to WhatsApp appears to be part of a broader crackdown on the internet and online content in China.

On Monday, China’s cyber watchdog handed down maximum penalties to some of the country’s top technology firms including Tencent, Baidu and Weibo for failing to properly censor online content.

The penalties were imposed for failing to remove fake news and pornography, as well as content that authorities said “incites ethic tension” and “threatens social order”.

Tennessee church shooting halted by ‘extraordinarily brave’ usher

A masked gunman was stopped mid-attack by an “extraordinarily brave” church usher after killing one person near Nashville, Tennessee.

The suspect shot and injured himself during a struggle with 22-year-old Robert Caleb Engle, who was struck in the face by the suspect’s gun.

But Mr Engle managed to get back to his car and get his own gun to guard the injured attacker until police arrived.

Police said 42 people were in the church at the time of the attack.

A woman, named as 39-year-old Melanie Smith of Smyrna, was found dead in the car park near the suspect’s car.

Nashville Police said the suspected attacker at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ was Emanuel Kidega Samson, 25, who was originally from Sudan.

Two pistols were recovered in the church and two more guns were found in Samson’s car nearby.

They added that the gunman shot himself in the chest “probably not intentionally” during the struggle with Mr Engle.

He was later released from hospital and charged with murder.

At least six people were also wounded, all of whom were aged over 60. The usher was also treated for head injuries after the altercation.

The motive for the shooting is not yet clear.

“It would appear he was not expecting a brave individual like the church usher to initiate the struggle and confrontation,” Nashville Police spokesman Don Aaron said.

Police said Mr Engle acted in an “extraordinarily brave” way.

In a statement Mr Engle said: “I do not want to be labelled a hero. The real heroes are the police, first responders and medical staff and doctors who have helped me and everyone affected.”

The church’s pastor, Joey Spann, and his wife Peggy were among those injured in the shooting, the Nashville Christian School said. Mr Spann teaches at the school.

One eyewitness, speaking to the Tennessean newspaper, said the pastor had shouted “run” as the suspect entered, but some were shot from behind.

“Our church is senior people. They didn’t make it out,” Minerva Rosa told the paper.

Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe calls snap election

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called an election a year early and will dissolve parliament on Thursday.

Mr Abe said he was seeking a fresh mandate to overcome “a national crisis” amid rising threats from North Korea.

His decision comes amid rebounding approval ratings after a record low over the summer and with the opposition largely in disarray.

Mr Abe did not set a date for the vote but Japanese media suggest it will be on 22 October.

Mr Abe’s support has surged as rising tensions with North Korea have overshadowed criticism of alleged cronyism.

The prime minister also announced a 2tn yen ($17.8bn, £13.2bn) stimulus package on education and social spending.

In a press conference on Monday evening, he said the fresh stimulus was needed for programmes to prepare Japan for the future.

He also said he would continue on his path of fiscal reform and would use the revenue from the recently introduced sales tax to balance the budget and reduce debt.

Why snap elections?

Analysts see the early vote as his way to seize the resurgent support and exploit the current weakness of the opposition.

For months, Mr Abe’s popular support has been badly hit by a string of scandals and unpopular policies.

In July, his ratings had dropped to less than 30% but then recovered to above 50% in September.

He denies allegations of cronyism and on Monday said dissolving the lower house was not an attempt at avoiding those allegations.

Mr Abe is also is trying to push through a controversial shift in Japan’s post-war pacifist defence policy, calling for formal recognition of the military in the constitution.

Who will he be running against?

While Mr Abe’s tough stance on North Korea has helped him regain support, his Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) campaign is also expected to focus on social policies at home.

The main opposition Democratic Party went through a tumultuous leadership resignation in July and is currently struggling with single-digit poll ratings.

But Mr Abe faces a new challenge from a former LDP cabinet member, current Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, who earlier on Monday announced she was forming a new national political party.

If current opinion polls are confirmed at the ballot box in October, Mr Abe will remain prime minister but his current coalition with the smaller Komeito party might fail to secure the two-thirds majority needed for his plan to revise the constitution.

If he wins another term, it would put Mr Abe on track to becoming the country’s longest-serving political leader in Japan’s post-war history.